Southmoore Theater Students Commemorate Deadly 1999 Tornado
MOORE, Oklahoma - Severe weather season is upon us, and for families in Moore, the month of May brings memories of both loss and resilience. Students at Southmoore High School are producing a play to commemorate one of the deadliest tornadoes in recent history.
The seniors at Southmoore are getting ready to hit the main stage with plays they have been working on for months, but “The Finger Of God” aims to touch the hearts of everyone in town.
Most of these students were not alive when the EF-5 touched down on May 3, 1999, but they remember well the devastation that ripped through Moore once again on May 20, 2013.
Co-directors of the play Jenny Henson and Gracie Riley lost their homes and more on that day. Henson remembers her neighbors “Kyle and Kaylee. They were at Plaza (Towers Elementary), but Kyle didn’t make it out, and I took that really hard because he was like a little brother to me.”
Each student involved in the project is tapping into personal experiences to tell the story of real and fictional characters who lived through the storm of 1999.
“It’s really emotional to watch them think back and place those memories so they can convey it in their characters to the audience,” Henson said.
Southmoore graduate Sam Robinson is the mastermind behind the script. He was just a young boy in 1999, but the tornado changed his life forever, as he tried to ride it out in his neighbor’s shelter.
“Next thing you know it rips open,” he said. “You could see the back end of the tornado passing right over us, and at that point, as a kid, it sent me into all types of trauma.”
After going through counseling throughout his childhood, Robinson is now a certified storm chaser, and wants to pass on valuable knowledge so no one forgets the unpredictability of an Oklahoma storm.
As the students put the finishing touches on their production, they hope the lesson sticks.
Riley said, “You definitely need to have a plan. Even if your cellar is under construction or something, you need to have a Plan B, and make sure you have a way to get in contact with people if there is something is coming.”
On Saturday, Southmoore will feature six plays, which start at 9 a.m. The Finger of God is scheduled to touch down just after noon.